What Does the Playoff Win Mean for the Bucs Future?

After Week 12, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were coming off a loss to the Indianapolis Colts, dropping their season record to 4-7. After winning five of its last six, Tampa Bay found themselves NFC South champions and hosting the reigning NFC Champions - Philadelphia Eagles, in the NFL Wild Card round.

The Bucs late-season success carried into the first round of the playoffs, picking up the 32-9 victory in front of their home crowd. So what does this mean for the future of the Buccaneers franchise?

1) Advancing in the playoffs

Let's start with the obvious. The victory pushes the Bucs into a Divisional Round matchup in Detroit against the Lions who are coming off a home victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Considering the Bucs were in-line to travel to San Fransisco to take on the No. 1 seeded 49ers, Tampa fans have to feel slightly grateful for the Packers taking down the Cowboys in Dallas. The Bucs now faced with a slightly smaller task in the Lions.

2) Baker Mayfield Future

This win for Baker was huge. The Bucs have now officially advanced further in the playoffs this season than Tampa did last season with Tom Brady, due to a Wild Card victory where Baker threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns.The question around Baker has gone from 'do we want him next season?' to 'are we willing to pay enough for him next season?'. The playoff win has boosted Baker into the Geno Smith tier of quarterback salary. Smith received a three-year $75 million contract extension due to overachieving in an opportunity for Seattle, after being let-for-dead by the league. Sounds a lot like Mayfield, who played for his fourth team in as many seasons this year. $75 million over the next three years sounds like the proper deal, but has Baker earned himself more money from a different team after this years success? I'm afraid so. Tampa may have to pay more than they expected to keep him on, but are the Bucs real contenders with Baker?

3) Mike Evans Future

Who would have imagined that Baker Mayfield would play a role in the All-Pro receiver Mike Evans' future in Tampa Bay. Now this is not confirmed, but I speculate their futures may be more intertwined than we ever imagined. After unsuccessfully reaching a deal last offseason, the 30-year-old wideout will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. If the Bucs decide to move on from Baker, how would the leagues co-leader in touchdown receptions feel about potentially playing with a rookie quarterback? Or Kyle Trask? Opposed to going to play for a contender in his remaining years in the league. Plus, the Bucs find themselves in a terrible cap space situation. So, could the Bucs afford to pay both Mayfield and Evans their desired number? Or could they use this as an opportunity to free up some space, take a step back in competitive scale, and plan for the future stars of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Brandon and I broke this all down on Tuesday on 'In The Zone'. Click the first podcast linked below for our full discussion on Baker, Mike Evans, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Additionally, Brandon was joined by Tampa sports talk radio host of 95.3 WDAE Zac Blobner for his insiders prospective. Check out the podcast below for their full conversation.

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